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IFJ concerned by threats against journalists after television report on Palestine

(IFJ/IFEX) - 12 October 2011 - The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European group of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), today expressed its support for journalists and unions at France 2 following threats made against the public channel's presenters over a television programme on the potential creation of a Palestinian state.

"We condemn all forms of threats against journalists who have done their work, especially on a politically-sensitive issue such as the Israeli-Palestinian relations," said Beth Costa, General Secretary of the IFJ/EFJ.

The two-hour long TV broadcast entitled "Eye on the planet" (Un oeil sur la planète) of Monday, 3 October, on the question "Is a Palestinian state possible?" drew particularly hostile reaction from some viewers, including verbal attacks on the presenters.

The National Union of Journalists (SNJ), an IFJ/EFJ affiliate, denounced "a hysterical wave of e-mails, often insulting, physical threats against the presenter of the evening programme: everything is good to try to intimidate journalists of France 2." The SNJ condemned the "intolerable harassment coming from a community group" and called on the profession to "show its support to journalists of France 2".

The EFJ backs the unions of journalists and condemns all forms of violence against media, citing one message which made the following threats: "I know the people responsible for this programme and their executives. They will pay the price of infamy".

According to media reports, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France and the Embassy of Israel requested a meeting with the president of France Televisions to discuss the TV programme. The EFJ said that journalists can benefit from constructive criticism if it is based on facts, noting that there has been no shred of evidence of professional error levelled at the programme makers nor factual inaccuracy in the report.

"We do not do politics, but rather journalism," added Ms. Costa, "And it is not up to any community organisation or any embassy to interfere in editorial matters on programmes by the French public broadcasting service simply because they disagreed with the content."

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